Piracy is far from a new phenomenon. Where there is an opportunity, there will always be people waiting to take advantage of it — ilegally downloading digital media is a perfect example of this. Due to the incredibly high number of people downloading copyrighted content, it’s difficult to keep track of them, so it’s not uncommon for an Internet Service Provider to turn a blind eye and take no action. Unfortunately for Cox Communications, a US-based cable TV company and ISP, their non-action has earned them a 25 million dollar lawsuit.
BMG vs Cox
Last year, music publisher BMG took Cox to court, where a federal jury ruled in their favour. Over the course of the trial, it was established that Cox Communications willfully infringed copyright, and was responsible for the infringements committed by their subscribers. The ISP was found guilty and deemed to pay BMG Rights Management $25 million in damages.
The verdict was a huge win for BMG as well as their copyright enforcer – Rightscorp. Prior to the lawsuit, Rightscorp relied on their quite ineffective (and frankly, unsuccessful) business model, which was primarily based on sending out high numbers of copyright notices to customers who’s IP’s were linked to pirated content. In fact, it was only after Cox refused to payout based on the Rightscorp model when BMG decided to take the dispute to court.
Despite the ruling, however, the case is not over yet. Quite recently, Cox renewed its motion for judgement as a matter of law, hoping to slip the jury verdict. Obviously, BMG wasn’t happy with the development, so the music publisher submitted their own request, but for a permanent injunction instead.
BMG demanded that Cox Communications not only forward future takedown notices to all subscribers associated with piracy and copyright infringement, but that the ISP also shares all known personal details linked with the account holders. These details include names, IP’s, email addresses and phone numbers of infringing customers. Despite their bold request, it’s unclear what BMG’s intention are. If the trial favours BMG, then Cox will have no choice but to disclose the personal details of what is likely tens (if not hundreds) of thousands of subscribers.
Although I don’t advocate for piracy, I believe in privacy and, at least, some level of anonymity – as naive as that may be. For that reason and many others, I strongly recommend incorporating a VPN into your browsing rituals.
As most of you probably know, a VPN – or Virtual Private Network – encrypts your browsing activity, helping not only secure your data, but also your privacy. Besides contributing to your online health, a VPN is also a great tool to dissociate yourself (to a degree) from your home internet connection.
A VPN sends your activity to a third party location – one that you can choose – which then accesses the Internet. From the receiving end, it looks like your location (IP address) is coming from the third party location. And although this doesn’t make you anonymous, it’s a great step to take in online privacy, and it may prevent you from rev ceiling a copyright infringement notice in the future.
Since there are literally countless VPN providers out there, it might be intimidating when it comes to settling down and picking just one. Well, we’ve done the footwork for you – check out this article, listing and comparing some of the most competitive options, and pick one.
As far as the BMG vs Cox case goes, I guess we’ll have to wait and see. Until then, safe browsing!
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net